Most people don’t believe it, but a heart transplant surgery is a relatively simple operation for a cardiac surgeon. The procedure, while risky, consists of just three operations.
Operation #1: Harvest the Heart from the Donor
In order for someone to get a heart donation, another person must die. The donor is usually someone who has suffered irreversible brain injury, known as “brain death”. Many such patients are victims of automobile or motorcycle accidents. Generally, the brain has stopped functioning, however the other organs may be working well with the help of “life support” devices. A team of physicians, nurses, and technicians removes the donor heart once brain death of the donor has been determined. The heart is transported on ice to keep the organ in optimal condition until implantation. The heart has less than six hours until it is damaged, so it is often flown by airplane or helicopter to the recipient’s hospital.
Operation #2: Remove the Recipient’s Damaged Heart
The level of complexity with removing the heart is predicated on the whether the recipient has had previous heart surgery. If there has been previous surgery, cutting through the scar tissue often prolongs and complicates the removal of the heart.
Operation #3: Implantation of the Heart
This operation involves the suturing of five areas connecting the large blood vessels entering and leaving the heart. If there are no complications, most heart transplant patients may return home one week after the surgery. Medical travelers may need to remain under observation for a longer period of time before returning home.
To learn more about heart transplant surgery in Puerto Rico, please call or email the Contact Center today.